Tuesday, May 11, 2010

$ymbol of $overeignty

The current example of Greece is illustrative in so many ways. German sociologist Max Weber famously defined a sovereign state as "a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory." In Greece, that monopoly is being presently being challenged by the people of Greece themselves. Whether or not the presence of some foreign army will one day be necessary to restore, or impose, order remains to be seen.

But while the efficacy of an armed force may indeed be the ultimate test of sovereignty, it's not the only one. In the case of Greece, Anne Applebaum illuminates yet another by asking whether it's still meaningful for that country to claim sovereignty when the other countries of the European Union can effectively impose such severe financial restrictions upon it.

A relatively precise way to determine the fact of sovereignty is to note the coining of money. Absent the practice, the claim of sovereignty is questionable. Greece no longer coins its own money. Is it still sovereign? Is it still master of its own fate? Does is it remain the ultimate authority and final arbiter within its own territory?

The price of sovereignty is steep. The cost of selling it is steeper still. Here endeth the lesson.

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